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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Dollar Tree shoplifting suspect flees on foot into woods

An Ocoee woman was arrested after giving her name to the store manager of Dollar Tree while she fled with $12.50 worth of stolen items.

Bridget Elsie Torres
Bridget Elsie Torres

An officer responded to Dollar Tree at Clermont Landing, located at 27 Steve’s Road, regarding a theft in progress around 2:05 p.m. Monday, according to an arrest report from the Clermont Police Department. 

The first officer on scene was met by a female witness who pointed toward Steve’s Road and told him she saw an employee chasing someone, later suspected to be 39-year-old Bridget Elsie Torres, in that direction. He requested further information from dispatch, and it appeared the initial witness’s statement and direction were incorrect, the report said. 

The officer met with the store manager who stated that the thief ran around the back of the building and into the woods, the report said. She was wearing blue jeans, a gray top with her stomach exposed and belly rings. She also had green cigarettes and a torch lighter. She told the store manager her name was Bridget “with one t.” 

Initially, the officer canvassed the area behind the store but saw no one between the back of the building and the forest tree line. He asked additional officers to check the woods from the Hooks Street side while another officer returned to the store. The store manager then completed a sworn written statement indicating his intent to prosecute on behalf of Dollar Tree, the report said. 

The store manager informed officers that he was unable to currently give an itemized list of items stolen, but when he first saw Torres, she was carrying a red, white and blue bag that appeared light and empty. She dropped and broke a candle, so he gave her a cart, the report said. 

Torres began to put items in the cart. A few moments later, the store manager noticed the cart was empty, but the formerly empty red, white and blue bag now appeared full. He at one point saw her chosing a package of pink razors, a bottle of body wash and a bottle of nail polish remover, the report said. 

At the end of the encounter, the store manager saw Torres leave the store with the bag and tried confronting her. She only offered that her name was “Bridget with one t” and continued to flee, the report said. 

Officers later canvassed several homeless encampments in the woods between Hooks Street and Clermont Landing with no results. One of the officers instead returned to Dollar Tree to collect video. The store manager advised he would have footage of Torres’ entrance and exit the following day, the report said. 

At about 5 p.m., an officer again canvassed one of the homeless encampments and spotted Torres wearing all the clothing and carrying the bag that matched the descriptions given earlier. Another officer arrived a few moments later and saw Torres, who he knew from previous encounters, again seeing that she matched the given description, the report said. 

Torres admitted to being at Dollar Tree earlier but denied stealing anything. She began to say that the two officers were impersonating law enforcement, that one of them was a fashion designer, and they were all from Lake County, California. The report noted she had a history of poor mental health. 

Based on the facts and circumstances, Torres’ bag was searched and found to have numerous items stolen from Dollar Tree. All of them were new and unopened. Two of the items, the pink razors and nail polish remover, were exactly as described by the store manager, the report said. 

An officer arrested Torres without incident and walked her out of the woods to the patrol cars. Another officer returned to Dollar Tree and brought the items to the store manager. He confirmed the items were all sold at his store, ran them through the POS system and generated a receipt for 10 items totaling $12.50, the report said. 

Torres was charged with petit theft and transported to Lake County Jail. Bond was set at $500. 

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